Even when the parade of human civilization is viewed through the skewed lens of secular postmodernity, Israel still stands out as the mystery of history. Never before has a nation been destroyed, its people scattered to the ends of the earth, and then, nearly two thousand years later, re-gathered to their homeland and re-established as a nation. And when Israel declared itself an independent state on May 14, 1948, the armies of seven Arab nations marched on the newborn State, boasting that they would “push the Jews into the sea.” Outnumbered 100 to 1, Israel not only repelled the invaders but acquired more of Palestine than was granted in the UN partition plan. Yigael Yadin, Israel’s commander of operations in that war, said concerning Israel’s victory, “It was a miracle!”
We live in strange days. Many are understandably and appropriately concerned about the threat of another 9/11 type attack on U.S. soil. And yet incredibly, many of these same people also seem afraid of offending terrorists! Our country is infected with a deadly PC virus that’s continually pushing the ideological envelope of redefined “tolerance, diversity, and multiculturalism” in a way that reflects the changing mores of a rapidly declining culture and society. It’s a virus that morphs and mutates into beliefs and behaviors that are not compatible with a consistent biblical worldview. For example, increasingly within evangelicalism the term Zionism is associated with racism and extremism; the same labels with which Zionism is maligned and demonized by the unbelieving world at large; which is not surprising because often there’s a very fine line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Yet the true meaning of Zionism is the collective longing of the Jewish people for their God-given homeland. A holy and righteous longing initially expressed in the Hebrew Scriptures themselves (cf. Psalm 137:5-6). And it’s also a longing that continues to be expressed within a very real context of dispersion, oppression, and persecution.
Now concerning how this genuine Zionism intersects with the Modern State of Israel, I want briefly unpack four biblical lines of evidence to make the case that this so-called “neighborhood bully” is actually where human hope and divine fulfillment converge. That it’s the centrality of prophetic reality. And in light of its glorious destiny, even though people dis the homeland of the Jews, we don’t have to sing the Zionist Blues.
First, the bible predicts that Jewish people initially return to their Land in a state of spiritual unbelief. In other words biblical prophecy indicates that the Jewish people will turn to God only after returning to the land of Israel. Ezekiel 36:24 (NASB) says, “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.” The next two verses (25–26) state, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Here’s the thing: Before the spiritual regeneration of Tribulation surviving corporate ethnic Israel can take place (cf. Zech. 13:8, Rom. 11:26), the national restoration of the Jewish people to their Land has to take place. And one of the reason’s that’s significant is because people often argue that the Modern State of Israel has no relationship to the Israel of the bible because the majority of Jewish people living in Israel today are secular and don’t recognize Jesus as Messiah. So even though Israel was reborn as a secular state by a secular Jews, that shouldn’t throw us for a loop, because that’s actually a necessary prerequisite to Israel being reborn a second time in the sense of a Messianic theocracy inhabited by redeemed Jews.
Second, the bible predicts that Jewish people will return to their Land in stages. Ezekiel 37 contains the vision of a valley of dry bones. The bones come to life in stages: first sinews, meaning the tendons on the bones, then flesh, then skin, and finally, the breath of life (37:6–10). Then God told Ezekiel that “these bones represent the whole house of Israel” (verse 11) and that their restoration is a picture of the way God will bring His covenant people “back to the land of Israel” (verse 12). The point here is that the return of the Jewish people to their Land doesn’t happen all at once, but rather it’s a process that eventually culminates in the nation receiving the breath of spiritual life by its faith embrace of grace in the Jewish Messiah. And historically speaking, this returning to the Land in stages is exactly what has played out. In the modern era, significant Jewish immigration to Israel began in 1881, and has continued to this day as seen in the recent wave of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
Third, the bible predicts that Jewish people will return to their Land through persecution. Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah concerning the people of Israel God says,” I will restore them to the land I gave their forefathers” (16:15). In the next verse, God also says He will use “fishermen” and “hunters” to pursue His people back to their Land (verse 16). Those terms fisherman and hunters are metaphors for persecution. And, as with returning to the Land in stages, this has been literally fulfilled in Jewish history. Czarist pogroms, Polish economic discrimination, Nazi genocide, Arab hatred, and Soviet repression; have all been allowed by a sovereign and I will hold those nations accountable for their actions God, for the big-picture purpose of compelling His Jewish people to return to their Land.
Fourth, the bible predicts that Jewish people will return to their Land to set the stage for end-time events. Daniel 9:27 speaks of a covenant agreement between a future world dictator/false messiah and the Jewish people. And this will set in motion a seven year period during which time the final and unprecedented events leading up to the real Messiah’s return takes place. Now for all of this to happen you have to have a reborn state of Israel. There needs to be a restored Jewish state for this treaty/covenant to be signed, for a temple to be rebuilt in which the false messiah will do his abomination of desolation (cf. Matt. 24:15), for Jerusalem to be surrounded by the nations during the military campaign of Armageddon, and for Jesus to return to deliver the Jewish people from their enemies as the nation’s attack Jerusalem.
Bottom Line: Since the Jewish people have initially returned to their Land in a state of spiritual unbelief, in stages, and through persecution; the modern state of Israel fulfills the predictions of the ancient Hebrew prophets and sets the stage for end-time events. So no worries. It’s all good when Zionism and the Modern State of Israel are understood to be a convergence of human hope and Divine fulfillment.